Facebook iOS Update: Very, Very, Very Good

If you haven’t updated Facebook on your iPhone yet, do it now.

I was skeptical this morning when I saw the news that the the company was releasing a “faster” iOS app. Like all of you I’ve sort of forgotten that Facebook even had a mobile version, because trying to access the mobile site or app just put my iPhone at extreme risk of being thrown through the nearest window. I’m not exaggerating, it was awful and you know all know it. I often said it was the company’s Achilles Heel, and a self inflicted one at that.

Well, they’ve ditched HTML 5 and went native.

I’m not going to go into the philosophical issues around the decision. The only real point is, this new version performs.

So far I haven’t seen any lags or screen locks (which were constant on the old version). Pictures and text are loading snappy and everything seems to be, in general, staggeringly better all around.

This is a big, big deal for Facebook. They really nailed this. Well done.

Facebook is back in the mobile game.

More at TechCrunch.

29 thoughts on “Facebook iOS Update: Very, Very, Very Good

  1. Basil says:

    I wish they’d do something about the Android app. It’s laggy, slow, and unstable, even on the google issued nexus devices. I understand when nickel and dime publishers can’t support the entire list of devices that can run Android, but Facebook is a big company, and Android is a big segment of the market. Bigger than iOS, last time I checked.

    • They used to have a native app that was better than the trash on there now. The HTML5 based iPhone and Android apps were their attempt to cheap it up but they eventually realized it wasn’t worth degrading the experience. I assume/hope the Android app will follow suit shortly & go back to full-native.

      • Wouter says:

        Makes me glad I never upgraded my FB Android app in 2 years 🙂

      • I think Facebook’s choice to go with HTML5 had more to do with their coding methodology than cutting corners or “cheaping it up” as you say. You gotta realize that Facebook is probably one of the most effective platforms out there in terms of A / B Split testing on a massive scale, affecting hundreds of millions of users. A recent article said that they push out new code twice a day. Twice a day!! This allows Facebook to test different code, and see how users react on a grand scale. In this regard, I think it makes total sense that they would want to use a platform (HTML5) with awesome cross-platform support, allowing them to push out these changes without having to make specific code for each specific platform. Of course, the tradeoff being the performance (and to some extent) the look and feel compared to Native App’s. So they made a switch, but like everything, even with Native App’s there are still tradeoff’s. I imagine moving to a Native App impacts Facebooks ability to maintain the same momentum with regards to A / B Split testing. End result is that this might potentially impact our user experience (UX) over time as rolling out new code now requires specific code changes for each specific platform (increasing the work load exponentially).

    • Facebook is now forcing employees to use Android version just because it sucks.

  2. I like the new app. It is way faster.
    But I disagree with your last point. Facebook never left the mobile game. Everywhere I looked, people where still using Facebook’s mobile apps. People didn’t mind the slowness, Facebook is where they wanted to go and so they did.
    With this update, Facebook now understands that they need a snappy app not for today, when they reign but for tomorrow, when they might be challenged.
    PS: They can now show more adds without people being so bothered by them, cause, you know, it’s fast!!

    • Michael Arrington says:

      I’d actually say that FB was never in the game at all. The app was atrocious.

      • Agree with Mike. Fb is so ubiquitous in most daily lives–incl. all the plug-ins and Fb Connect APIs that boomerang us back–that people *begrudgingly* used the crummy web & native apps because we had no other choice. Yes, people including me DID mind the slowness, bugs, crashing & lack of key functionalities (e.g. inability to tag people in status updates).

        I wouldn’t say that the fb app they released today is the one that prepares them to reign tomorrow. It’s (hopefully) the app that gets them to the quality mobile experience they should have launched a long time ago.

      • Ilja says:

        I think you are in the mobile game when you make money of the mobile users. They claim 25% of the users of FB are mobile users. Are 25% of the revenues coming from mobile?

  3. shannonclark says:

    My wife is noting that there is also an update to their Android app though whether it is a just a minor update or as major as the iOS update is less clear. I like the new iOS app (no longer as frustrating to use) but I’m still really puzzled that actions like resharing something from my news feed aren’t there (or if they are it isn’t at all clear how to do it) and overall the app while fast still seems to lack many things

  4. I think it’s very likely there are no philosophical reasons they made the switch, but more specifically performance reasons. HTML5 is awesome, allowing us (Dev’s) to build Mobile Web App’s that almost look the same as a Native App (or do look the same with enough effort). But in my opinion it’s still at the point where for the most part, it does not provide the same performance as a Native App (at least not without Tweaking it). I believe this is especially true when the App is complex, like the Facebook App. There are issues with smooth scrolling, smooth transitions, and delays when tapping, among other things. All this stuff combined can make a complex Mobile Web App perform slower than a Native App, and just feel somewhat unresponsive. But this is not to say that it will be like this forever. There are some great minds in the community working on Javascript / CSS Tweaks that will eventually allow Mobile Web App’s to perform similarly to Native ones. Of course, it will also depend on what browser people use. I think Facebook made a good move. Mobile Web App’s are still being perfected, with Native App’s being the target. Native App’s are already there. For a company that has millions of user and a complex App, it was a no brainer to go Native. Maybe at some point in the near future the technology will progress to the point where the User does not know the difference. I hope so anyway, because I’m a huge HTML5 supporter.

  5. Raunak says:

    I hope that share price starts trending upwards! just unbelievable that it took them so long to come up with a smooth app.

  6. vshank77 says:

    Agreed, the app is snappy and faster.

    However it is so surprising that it is not possible to do simple things like “re-sharing a photo” on a mobile. For heaven’s it’s a social application and sharing is fundamental nature of the game.

  7. You only have 7 notifications waiting?? I figured you’d be permanently @ 999 haha…

  8. joe@johnson.com says:


  9. Amber Goodsell says:

    How can I download the new facebook if I’ve already have Facebook on my phone?

  10. Mike Ghaffary says:

    I’m downloading now based on your recommendation. Only outstanding question is if Brian knew he would be in your screenshot!

  11. denise says:

    I was on my “Reader” and came across this. I had no idea of the new FB App update until now. In all honesty, throwing my two cents in, I don’t think they were ever out of the mobile game. The old app was awful, don’t get me wrong but most people I know with iOS or Android just use their browser to go on the ridiculously addictive site.

    I did update, WAY BETTER, way faster. Thank you for letting me know it was out there and good.

  12. azwanpopy says:

    I’ve tried this facebook .. it’s very exciting easier.

  13. Jurvis Tan says:

    I was jumping up and down when this was released. Really enjoy the whole “flick” function when viewing photos, I can now use Facebook with one hand without attempting to reach for corners on my iPhone!

  14. Lesley Sekati says:

    Fb rules n Governments especialy education,they should use it

  15. It’s even better on the iPad. Took that app from totally unusable too, to a really pleasurable app to use. Far more “buttery” than the one on my Android tablet, too. Absolutely great job!

  16. Ben Lang says:

    I wonder when they’re going to come out with a good version for Android, after only 68% of phones are Android based…

  17. Ben Lang says:

    Now I wonder when they’re going to come out with a new Android version that works well, after all only 68% of the smartphone market is Android based.

  18. VW says:

    It is way better! We have abandoned it before and now are re-installing it.

  19. Yeah, it’s faster. But you no longer have the ability to use landscape text entry mode (a deal breaker for me), and you STILL can’t re-share posts or photos. I also have to wonder why you can’t log-in as your ‘Page’ if you have one – forcing you to use their horrible Pages* app.

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